Service providers are calling for urgent support for the Eurobodalla Shire’s most disadvantaged this National Homelessness Week.
Glenn Farquhar-Nicol, of Batemans Bay’s Pivot Point service, and Shirley Diskon, of men’s shelter Hope House, said the number of residents without stable accommodation had increased dramatically in the past five years and services struggled to keep up with demand.
Pivot Point, at the Uniting Church, Hanging Rock, provides emergency food relief, a listening ear and a guiding hand for people struggling to afford groceries and a safe place to live.
The service runs on donations after government funding was cut in 2015. Thanks to a recent grant, Pivot Point now offers showers and laundry facilities.
Mr Farquhar-Nicol said the biggest trend was seen in the growing numbers of women and people with mental health issues using the service.
“There are more women who are homeless now compared to five years ago - back then it was mainly blokes,” he said.
“When we got government funding, we used to provide essential cards, as well as groceries, and we had 1700 people on our books, about 10 per cent of Batemans Bay.
“Because it's a basics service now, the trend I'm seeing is that we're getting the really, really desperate people.
“To swallow your pride enough to come in and pick groceries off the shelf is a fair ask for most of us.
“People willing to do that are really struggling.
“Most of them say it's the thing that's keeping them afloat when they can come in once a month.”
Mrs Diskon said Hope House had provided accommodation for more than 310 homeless men since it opened almost nine years ago.
She said the average stay at the facility was three months.
In just the past fortnight, the shelter has received 14 referrals, four from Community Corrections.
“Homelessness is not a choice,” Mrs Diskon said.
“There's an array of reasons – you've lost your job, you can't afford the rent, or they sell the house out from under you or they don't want you in there anymore.
“When you’re out of jail, where do you go? I had a guy turn up the other day, three days out of jail and he had been sleeping under the bridge.
“There is nowhere for them to go.
“We need a bigger place to take these people on. It's just not enough.”